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Monday, April 12, 2010

Galilee: Days 1-2

These are the first few days of my Galilee trip. Although we have not gotten to Galilee yet, we have visited some fantastic sites including Aphek/Antipatris, Caesarea, Mt Carmel, Megiddo, the Harod Spring, Jezreel, and Nazareth.

Caesarea is amazing. Here we are standing in front of a Roman theater. Although theater had been reconstructed, goes it is in the original location. This theater was where Herod Agrippa I was struck down by God in Acts 12. Josephus also records the event, supporting it's truth. Paul was also brought before Felix at Caesarea, testimony to Felix and Festus, great grandchildren of Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa II and Bernice.

Mt Carmel is the most famous location of the same showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. The story famously that Elijah challenged the 450 prophets, and in their God Baal. They each set up an altar to their god. The prophets of Baal did all they could to get Baal's attention, to the point of, where he gave his cutting themselves. When Baal did not and before the answer, Elijah mocked them. Then, Elijah told the people to pour four jars of water on the altar, three times, until the altar was

soaked in water. Then he prayed to God who sent down fire from heaven. Elijah then had the people slay the prophets of Baal, thus proving who was the one true God.

John and Zach

Sandy and I

Our final stop of the day 2 was Nazareth. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, and at the time it had a population of probably 300 people, today it is a large Arab Israeli city. There are two churches commemorating the life of Jesus here. The Greek Orthodox have a church over the town's spring, assuming Mary was drawing water from the spring when Gabriel came to her. The Catholic's church is where they believe Mary's home might have been. Of course it is unknown who is right, or both could be wrong, not sure it matters. Here I am, sitting in a gorgeous hotel, while Jesus lived and walked, probably right below its foundations. And later in his life, was rejected Luke 4, by his own people.
I guess this is supposed to be Mary's home.

The Catholic church of the Annunciation.

The Greek Church, that has no name?

Natural spring in Nazareth

Kimberly Glass and I, on a hill overlooking Nazareth


Last Wednesday we took a field trip to the region of Samaria. We visited the Old Testament city of Aphek, which was the New Testament City of Aphek. The site is a national park, and although it was just another bunch of ruins (see a lot of those =) it was really pretty. Kind of a solemn spot. I Samuel records a battle between the Philistines and Israel, and the Philistines killed 30,000 Israelites, and they took the ark of the Covenant, which they later regretted.

Our second stop was at Shiloh. The Tabernacle rested at Shiloh after the conquest of Joshua. It was where Hannah asked God for a child in I Samuel, and God gave her Samuel.

We stopped at Shechem, a very important Old Testament city. Although we had to overlook Shechem from Mt Gerezim, because of the political situation, we still got a great view. At Shechem is where God promised Abraham the land, and later God fulfilled that same promise by giving the land into the hands of the Israelites during the time of Joshua. Behind Heather and I is the possible location of Jacob's well. This well is where Jesus met the Samaritan woman and proclaimed his deity. For some reason I really enjoyed this spot overlooking the city. For Jesus to talk to the Samaritan woman truly was a loving act. Because it wasn't bad enough that she was a Samaritan, but worse, an adulterer. His humanity is clearly seen because I see a real place, that he really lived, but His deity is even clearer, because no man would've done such a thing, offering her living water.

Probably the highlight of the day was our visit to the vineyard. We reenacted the Benjamites stealing the dancing ladies, and carrying them off to be their wives. Bill filmed it, and it can be seen on the Ibex website .
As you can see, John caught his wife =)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jewish Thought & Culture

This clip is about Messianic Believers/Jews living here in Israel. The first family you see in the video lives here at Yad Hasmonnah. The clip is centered around believers who live here on the moshav, (except the church at the end, don't know them =). Of my four classes, one is called Jewish Thought & Culture. It is taught by Ariel Berkowitz, a Jewish man from Philadelphia who moved to Israel 18 years ago with his family. Between this class, and the people in this clip, I am learning a great deal about the Jewish people (they find it offensive to be called Jews by westerners).

Here are few things in the clip I would like to address:
Ayelet and her family as well as well as the other Jewish people who live here in Israel refer to themselves as Messianic Believers/Jews. They do not refer to themselves as Christians because Christianity is the enemy of the Jewish people, equal to Islam. Ariel just finished teaching us in class what Jewish people think of Christians. Something he stressed a great deal, and I too feel is very important, is the history of "Christian" treatment towards Jews. We all know of the Crusades; the Christians felt it was there duty to spread their faith, restore the Holy Places, baptize Jewish and Muslim infidels, and torture the "Christ killers". Their murderous tactics are remembered very well today among Jewish people. Now, we would not label these people as Christians today, they did not preach the gospel of love that our savior did, but this does not matter to Jewish people. The crusaders came in the name of Jesus, the do not separate the Catholic faith from Protestant, Mormon from Christian, Evangelical from Pentecostal. Every "Christian" denomination is the same to a Jewish person. They do not want to forget the past, even if it took place 1000 years ago. Also important to know is that even leaders of the Protestant reformation were anti-Semitic. Even Martin Luther held violent tendencies towards them. Jewish people will not trust anyone who comes in the name of Christianity, thus this is the reason for the title Messianic Believers. In the clip is a short statement by an ultra-orthodox rabbi against these believers. He says that the believers will kidnap your children. During the medieval period, there was a lie made up by the leaders of the church called the blood libel. It stated that the Jews would steal Christian children, suck their blood, and use it to make matzoh for Passover. A very sick lie, but clearly revealing the anti-Semitic of the day. This law has lasted a thousand years, and the Muslims still tell it to their people. I believe this rabbi is using this "Christian" lie today here in Israel, against the Messianic believers.

The Ronan family in this clip, as well as others claim to practice kosher laws, the sabbath, and circumcision. Many of the Messianic Jews here practice Jewish customs in the Torah, for what I see to be very good reasons. The Ronan's had us IBEXer's over to talk about all the things in this clip, and Ayelet explained this to us. They do not believe in anyway that practicing these things saves them. They feel that as Jews, God gave them, the Jewish people, the Torah, and the laws in it. Even Paul says the Law is good, which is why Messianic Jews still do abide by some of it. As Jews, they feel it is the best lifestyle they can follow. Another important reason is, because of how important kosher, circumcision, and other Jewish practices are here in Israel. As good Jews, they want to be a witness to their neighbors, they can be both believers in Yeshua, and be good Jews at the same time. It is not a practice for salvation, but for practicality, and good living. However, they would not claim that we as Gentiles need to follow the same laws, for God gave the Law to the Jews.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Last few days. NT Jerusalem Model. Random fun. Temple Mount. SIfting for Jewish Antiquities.

This is a model from Jerusalem from around after the time of Jesus, about 45 AD. It's about the size of two tennis courts. In this picture is the pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the lame man. We visited the real site which still has some remains today. Think there should be some pictures up already. This is what they think it possibly looked like. Possibly a more accurate model, since the remains still stand today.

What they think the Temple would've looked like. The court outside the walls would be the Court of the Gentiles.
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We walked up this side of the wall on our OT walk. This is the southern side of the Temple Mount. The Turks built a wall coming out of the gate on the left, so today the wall looks split in two. The buildings in front of it begin the City of David.

The Pools of Siloam. Another place we got to visit, at least what remains of it today. It is pretty much filled in with mud. This is the miracle where Jesus heals the blind man. The pool is right at the exit of Hezekiah's tunnel, which runs under the City of David.

This is what they think Herod's Citadel would've looked like. To the right of the towers was possibly his own personal palaces. This Citadel was my first stop in Jerusalem. Today, only part of one of these four towers remains. The Romans way of saying, mess with us, look what we can do to you.

A view of the whole model. I really wanted to take closer up images, and tell you they've been lying about the temple all these years, that it still stands, as you can see I didn't. Pretty neat though. Unfortunately I forgot to take a place of where they think Calvary is. Oh well, it's only a guess anyways.
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Went to the mall. A pretty good size, not as big as a Westfield, and it's more circular. Was pretty tired by this time. Enjoying a McDonald's soft serve ice cream.

Just having some fun. Couple of us walked to Kiriat Jaarim, the local village. Two of the girls wanted to bring back palm branches, so two of the German sisters in our group could recreate a video of the song "Sisters" from White Christmas. Let's just say it was a fun walk. If we don't get honked at enough already, this only helped.

Bill bought everyone some strawberries in the market place in West Jerusalem. This is in a newer part of the city, built up since 1948. They were huge, and good.

First view of the Dome of the Rock. This would've been the Court of the Gentiles, from the time of the second temple period. Gentiles would not be allowed past this court. Further courts would be the Court of the Women, the Court of the Men, the Court of the Priests, and then inside the Temple itself, the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest was allowed.
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View of the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. I am standing on Jewish graves. Normally this would be considered disrespectful, but in this country, you can't go anywhere without running into a grave. One of the guys actually fell into a Muslim grave, quite funny actually. In order to be buried on the Mount of Olives, one must be very wealthy, or someone of great importance, such as a priest or rabbi. As we were standing here today, Bill had us take a moment of solitude, reflecting on the fact that soon enough, it is likely that we will be like those below us.

Zechariah 14, 4On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split into two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half ot eh mountain moving north and half moving south. 8. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in the summer and in winter. 9 The LORD will be king over all the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

Jesus was there the night before his death in the garden. He ascended from there, and he will descend back to there upon His return. It's amazing to think that mountain will split into two (fresh water will fill the Dead Sea, the east sea), but even more amazing that He will again stand there.

This is the Western Wall of the 2nd temple of the Jews. This is what remains of the temple, begun by Nehemiah and Exra, finished by Herod the Great, and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:2 that the temple would be destroyed, "not one stone will be left on another." The Jews of his day thought that was inconceivable, but it happened, and today, they still mourn for it's destruction. This wall has also been called the wailing wall. Many Jews pray here, and it's common for people to write a prayer down and put it in a crack in the wall. The wall is also segregated. Kind of funny actually, the men have this huge section of the wall, and the women a much smaller section, but there are many more women than men. The women seem to be very devoted, when some of them pray on the wall, you will see them backing away from it, so as not to turn their backs on it.

A view looking up at the wall. The papers are sticking out of cracks.

We got to help the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation. In I think 1996, the Muslims wanted to create fire escape exits on the south side of the temple wall. Herod, when he expanded the temple on the south side the mountainside in with arches. The Muslims cleared out the side of the mountain, and used those arches for fire escapes, because under the temple are rooms for Muslims to pray, and there was no way out for them in case of an emergency. In front of those arches they cleared out layers and layers of debris and just dumped it near the City of David.
"The Muslims have always forbidden any archaeological excavation on the Temple Mount, because it is their holy site where Mohamed "descended into heaven." They want to forget, ignore, and pretend that there was never a Jewish temple on the mountain, because acknowledging the Jews were there first would be like saying their god was first, and Allah would not be the only god.
Because archaeologists have never been able to excavate on the temple mount, all the debris dumped in the valley is the opening to a new field in a sense. Debris has been found from the first temple period, 586 BC, to the Ottoman period in the 1500's. Thousands of years of materials have been found.
Basically, to sum it all up, what we did was called sifting. Each of us took a bucket of debris, emptied it onto a holey metal cage, that had a ditch underneath. We rinsed of the pieces, and sifted through them, sorting our findings into different categories; pottery, metal, bones, special rocks, mosaic, coins. We really didn't find anything too special, a couple people found some coins which were, basically, our group lost. Though we did find a piece of mother of pearl which the excavator said was a good find =)
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